Paul Henning was the head writer and producer for two of the most-successful TV series of all time, The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction. He grew up in Independence, Missouri, hometown of President Harry Truman. They met when Paul was working in a drug store, and the future president advised him to become a lawyer. Paul studied law for a time, but decided he’d rather be a singer. Working for radio station KMBC as a singer, he learned they had no money to hire someone to write filler for the announcers between songs, so he started doing that as well. Finding that writing was a more lucrative use of his time, he abandoned singing and moved to California.
In 1962, he created The Beverly Hillbillies, based on his experiences in the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri, and wrote or co-wrote 200 of the 274 episodes, including all the episodes for Seasons 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9. He also wrote the theme song, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett."
CBS was so happy with the success of The Beverly Hillbillies that they gave Paul another half-hour time slot. He created Petticoat Junction in 1963, which starred Bea Benadaret, Edgar Buchanan, and Paul’s own daughter, Linda Kaye, among others. It was based on his wife’s stories about her time spent at her grandparents’ hotel in Eldon, Missouri, close to the Rock Island Line train tracks. He wrote the theme song for that, too.
Petticoat Junction spawned a spin-off, Green Acres, in 1965. Paul was the producer and casting director for that. All three shows were quite popular, but in 1971 CBS chose to cancel all their rural-based shows. All the shows went into syndication, where they live on into eternity.
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Paul Henning, your Two For Tuesday, February 11, 2020.